A “reputable” cable company unfairly steered a friend to a higher priced cable service plan because our friend did not know the difference between “cable” digital converters and “over-the-air” digital to analog converters. Read about the difference.
As we know, in 2009, over-the-air analog television broadcasts in the U.S.A. will switch to digital broadcast signals and the old type “rabbit-ears” analog televisions or external roof antenna televisions will need digital to analog converters to work.
Many TV commercials are urging consumers to get digital converters, so a senior citizen, family friend became confused as to whether or not he needed to buy a digital to analog converter for his old television set. So, as a cable customer, he called his cable company for information.
Our friend, who is on Social Security retirement income, originally chose the inexpensive basic cable service to save money. However, when he called the cable company and asked information about the “digital box” for 2009, the cable company representative, without explanations, steered him to get the more expensive digital cable package.
The cable representative did not tell our friend that the digital converter box that is widely advertised on TV is different from the digital cable box provided by the cable company. He was not even told that the cable company would still offer the analog basic cable service in 2009.
Our friend would need a digital cable box only if the cable company decides to switch to an all-digital service, then his old cable-ready analog TV must have a cable digital box supplied by his cable company, or he needs to purchase a cable ready digital TV.
The cable company pushes the digital package plan because that plan gives the opportunity to watch many more channels. However, these digital cable packages are more expensive, and furthermore, the digital cable box comes with an additional monthly rental fee.
For our senior citizen friend, this type of behavior from the cable company is a veiled type of scam. Our friend did not have the time or willingness to investigate this issue; consequently, the increase in his cable bill was unfair because our friend will never watch all the many channels available on the digital plan.
He did not know that he could continue to watch his basic cable channels even after 2009, until his cable company switches to an all-digital service.
The US government through the FCC, does not force any cable company to switch to digital by 2009. The decision is left to each cable company. As long as our friend is able to receive his basic cable service without a converter box, his cable company should not coerce him into purchasing a more expensive cable package. Fortunately, we were able to warn our friend.
The above events might have been an honest mistake in terminology; however, this practice is still not fair to consumers.
In various Internet searches, I even found reports and complaints about many real digital TV scams where consumers fell victim by accepting “free” offers from unscrupulous companies. Since Internet links vary, it is recommended that you do a search relating to “digital TV scams” for more information.
I hope that you will be a better-informed consumer regarding some of these veiled scams about digital TV converters, so please remember to specifically ask your cable company if you can still receive their basic service without upgrading to a digital cable plan.